The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every industry, and the hotelier industry is probably facing the most massive blow. While some people can’t travel because of the lockdown, some are scared to do it in the first place. There are people who still want to travel, but they can’t. Restrictions are in place not just between countries, but within certain states as well.
Since the hotel industry depends on your people traveling, they are losing power to attract customers. But there are some options.
Certain practices can help you recover from the COVID-19 situation. You need to make your guests feel safe by ensuring minimum contact between guests and minimum contact with service staff, and a clean and properly sanitized environment.
Let’s take a closer look at several strategies able to help you come through these hard times.
Implement Protection Protocols
At the start of the pandemic, we only knew a couple of things about COVID-19, but today, we have plenty of actionable information. The newest COVID-19 findings relevant for hoteliers are those about preventing the spread of the potentially deadly virus. Implementing protection protocols should be your first step towards recovering from the current situation.
First off, social distancing is paramount. You need to place markers in the lobby area and ensure a safe distance between tables in the restaurant. Then, you should implement a housekeeping policy where rooms are sanitized after the checkout. Lifts have to be cleaned regularly. Also, you can send food and beverages directly to the customer’s room instead of forcing them to come down.
Why is this important? Safety practices such as contactless hotel check-in and contactless dining send a strong message. You can even check your guests’ temperature on their arrival. You will appear as a brand that cares about the health of its guests and puts their safety above all else.
Now is the best time to adopt new technologies to streamline these activities. Yes, it may initially put some extra pressure on your staff, but in the long run, it will pay off. Especially now, when we are being told that we may have to learn how to live with the virus.
Use of Contactless Technology
Hotels have always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies that are beneficial to guests. However, during this pandemic, hotels need to adopt new practices to let the guests bring their own device (BYOD).
So, offer contactless check-ins, where customers can do a pre-check-in, even before they arrive at the hotel. You can install a kiosk at the hotel to avoid contact with the staff.
By doing this, the customer can just collect his or her key and go to their room. Thus, you will provide a completely contactless service.
You can offer additional services such as ordering food and beverages, housekeeping, room service, through a digital menu they can access on their phone. You can also offer payment services this way.
All these services can be provided through a third-party value-added platform, like SMS & payment gateways. The point is that guests do not have to reach the front desk to pay bills. Instead, they can take care of it from their own phone.
Keep Your Target Market Informed
Anything that you do internally to make your establishment safe and secure for your guests will be futile unless you talk about it. The reputation of your brand no longer matters, at least not to the same extent as it did before the COVID-19 struck. Now, you will have to extend your brand image and communicate once again, what makes your brand stand out.
The guest health and protection safety measures can easily be your strongest point. Your strategy should reflect your blog, social media, paid ads, and event listings.
Don’t hold back. Talk about COVID-19 and its implications on travel. Give your potential guests guidelines on how to stay safe. List out all the measures you’ve implemented on your blog. People are very well aware of the novel coronavirus.
If they decide to travel after the lockdown, the chances are they are going to pick establishments that value their health and have measures in place to keep the guests protected.
Protect Your Staff
Unfortunately, many hoteliers are struggling to keep the staff on the payroll due to the losses this season. While this is out of your control, you should give your best to protect your staff. If you had to let some people go, you’ve probably kept the most experienced employees. You can’t afford to have them on sick leave now that you plan to recover your business.
The good thing about it is that the same distancing rules that apply to guests apply to your staff as well. But this is only one side of the “protect your staff” strategy. You’ll need to manage your inventory of sanitizers, gloves, and masks. Keep the inventory stocked to prevent having to temporarily deny some of your services to your guests.
Check the health hotelier union’s and local government’s protocols. Make sure to abide by all the rules to avoid penalties.
Set Realistic Expectations
Some expert’s forecasts look promising. It appears that it will take anywhere from 6 to 10 months for hotel demand to recover. To devise a hotel recovery strategy, you need to set realistic expectations, mainly in terms of your financial plan.
Many governments have offered hoteliers financial help as the response to COVID-19. Look for such programs in your country, and feel free to use it to financially support your establishment. Furthermore, to ensure your business continuity, be brutally honest about the estimated downfall.
All this data will enable you to set realistic expectations and make data-driven business decisions. You may have to reduce labor costs and limit operating hours to a minimum. If you are struggling, you will have to identify non-essential spending, reduce it, or eliminate it.
Even though the situation seemed grim at the start of the pandemic, the good news is that hoteliers can recover from the COVID-19 situation. Implementing measures to promote staff and guest safety and health, such as contactless hotel check-in and contactless dining, goes a long way.
As you can see, you will have to set realistic expectations, forecast revenue, and keep a tight operation.